Week 15: Washington Redskins At Cleveland Browns
- QuarterbackQuarterback Robert Griffin III was forced out of the Redskins’ dramatic 31-28 overtime win vs. the Ravens with a knee injury and he may not be able to play against the Browns. Backup Kirk Cousins stepped in and finished off a game-tying, fourth quarter drive and then ran for a two-point conversion. Losing RGIII would be a huge blow, but Cousins appears to be capable.Brandon Weeden does not have much to work with on the offensive side of the ball, but he works hard and he has improved quite a bit. The Browns have made significant progress and could finish at .500 if they win out. Weeden has completed 57.0 percent of his passes and he has thrown for more than 3,000 yards.
- OffenseThe Redskins can pound the ball on the ground with rookie running back Alfred Morris. The unheralded power runner ripped the Ravens for 122 yards against the Ravens and he has run for 1,228 yards and seven touchdowns this year. Pierre Garcon is a courageous receiver. He will run hard to get in position to make the catch, take the hit and keep on going.The Browns are not a fancy offensive team, but Trent Richardson could develop into a star. Richardson has rushed for 869 yards and is averaging 3.5 yards per carry, but he takes the ball and keeps on running hard. Unheralded Josh Gordon has turned out to be a legitimate receiver with 42 catches for 732 yards and 5 TDs.
- DefenseThe Redskins are not going to shut anyone down, but they can come up with key plays when the game is on the line. In the win over the Ravens, the Redskins held Baltimore quarterback Joe Flacco to 182 passing yards. That’s a big improvement because the Redskins rank 31st against the pass. Ryan Kerrigan is a solid pass rusher who can close on the quarterback.The Browns are punishing tacklers and they can fly to the football. The best of the bunch may be middle linebacker D’Qwell Jackson, who leads the team with 96 tackles. He also has seven passes defensed. Cornerback Sheldon Brown is a good pass defender with 3 interceptions, 15 passes defensed and 52 tackles.
- Special TeamsThe Redskins got a huge punt return in overtime that allowed them to get in position to beat the Ravens. Rookie Richard Crawford made a couple of quick moves and zipped upfield to give the Redskins possession deep in Baltimore territory before Kai Forbath won the game with a 34-yard field goal. Forbath has made all 14 of his FG attempts since joining the Skins.Phil Dawson is nearly automatic as a placekicker. He has made 26-of-27 FG attempts this season, including 5-of-5 from 50 yards and beyond. Joshua Cribbs is a stellar return man, but the Browns got a 93-yard punt return for a score from Travis Benjamin in Week 14 against the Chiefs.
The Redskins are surging as they make a bid for the postseason, but their concentration will be a bit off if RGIII can’t play or he is not at his best. The Browns may be able to surprise them because they have shown some improvement recently and the defense hustles and hits hard.